i5R VS i5T Plus
By Olight Canada Sam
The i5R is a USB Type C rechargeable EDC light that replaced the original i5T in the Olight lineup. In contrast, the i5T Plus is an EDC working light that runs on a pair of readily accessible AA batteries. As closely related lights, these two models share some obvious similarities, but they also have some distinct differences. We will compare the lights against each other using three main categories: Form Factor, Performance, and Features.
i5R VS i5T Plus
The biggest difference in the form factor, aside from the size and weight which we will dive into shorty, is the customization options of the i5T Plus. It will continue to be available in four colors, including the always popular OD Green, and Olight's signature Light Orange. Both of which were limited edition colors of the i5R, and can now only be found on the secondary market.
Unlike the i5R, the i5T Plus offers you your choice of 3 LED color temperatures! Read my previous blog post for more information about that!
Also unique to the i5T Plus is your choice between the familiar helix knurling, and the brand new pebble knurling. In my testing I found pebble knurling shows superior performance in both gloved hands, and in tight spaces that require dexterous manipulation.
At under 10 cm, the i5R is highly compact and disappears in a pocket, sometimes literally. The i5T Plus is under 15 cm in length making it less than 50% longer than its smaller cousin. As a pocket light, it still fits comfortably in most pants pockets, and should fit nicely in any utility pocket in which you previously stored an i5T.
In terms of diameter, the head of both models is pleasingly identical. But, where the i5R is cylindrical throughout its entire length, the diameter of the i5T Plus necks down for the length of the battery tube, and only widens to its full diameter towards the head, and tail cap. This difference looks subtle in pictures, but feels noticeable in the hand.
In practical terms, the slimmer body makes gripping the light feel a lot more slender and dexterous. When gripped in a closed fist, the light feels compact and ergonomic. And when gripped like a pencil, the light feels simple and highly controllable. The thinner body also helps getting the light in and out of pockets.
Dexterity is also a practical upside of the additional length. As a working light, the i5T Plus is designed to easily reach further into tight spaces. Where a smaller light might be dropped, the i5T Plus offers more surface area for grip while remaining a slim and lightweight package. Speaking of weight...
The smaller of the two weighs in at 60g. making the i5R a very small LED light to carry with you. At 89g, the i5T Plus is less than 50% heavier. Both lights are made of aluminum, which make each light feel lighter than it looks. Especially the i5T Plus, which is deceptively light for its size. With most of the additional weight being attributed to the 2nd battery, the weight is very well distributed, contributing to this lights overall dexterity.
The user interface is identical. The rubberized tail switch functions exactly the same on both models, allowing you to half press for momentary on, or full click to activate low mode. A second click turns off lights again. Turning the light off and on again quickly will cycle the light between its two brightness settings.
PRO TIP: If your first press is momentary on, and your second press is a full click, that is the fastest way to access high brightness setting. High can be accessed almost immediately using this method. Leave a thumbs up on this article if you hadn't considered this before!
This is where things start to get interesting. If you weren't interested already...
The i5R comes with a custom rechargeable 14500 lithium-ion battery. This battery is the same size as a standard AA battery, but due to its chemistry it has a much higher voltage, allowing for a pretty good run time. This i5R is rechargeable, utilizing a USB Type C port built directly into the battery. You can use regular AA batteries in an i5R, but performance drops noticeably.
The i5T Plus on the other hand uses a pair of standard off-the-shelf AA batteries, or traditional rechargeable AA batteries like you might put in a point-and-shoot digital camera.
Single-use primary cells have advantages and compromises. Using a pair of these batteries in series allows for increased voltage, and higher maximum output. Another key advantage is that high-quality batteries can have much more capacity compared to the same size lithium ion battery. A quality AA can has 2,000 to 3000 mAh capacity, compared to the 1,420 mAh battery in the i5R. The result is the superior runtime of the i5T Plus as we are about to discuss...
Arguably, the main advantage of primary cells is their availability. They are everywhere and affordable. And high-quality ones are very long-lasting, in both runtimes, and on standby. Meaning they have great stability in long-term storage both inside your light, and in the box on the shelf.
Runtime / Brightness (lumen)
The easy comparison here is on low mode. Both lights are rated to output 15 lumens. Running for 54 hours on low, the i5T Plus can push well past the i5R maximum runtime of 37 hours.
High brightness setting is a more nuanced topic, as evidenced by this chart I made. The strength of the lithium-ion battery in the i5R is the impressive duration of its maximum brightness. The i5R will run at 350 lumens for a respectable 10 minutes. After that time, the output dims to 150 lumens and continues to dim slowly for a max of 170 minutes.
The i5T Plus is noticeably brighter, achieving a maximum of 550 lumens for the first 3 minutes on fresh batteries. After that short sprint, the AA batteries show their strength by sustaining 300 lumens for more that 30 minutes. This is a very impressive runtime, at a very similar output as the max output of the i5R. After those 33 minutes, the i5T Plus continues to dim down slowly until it turns off after more of a still-impressive 10 hours of total runtime.
Voltage step-down is important to consider in any flashlight, but is not always easy to visualize. This chart hopefully illustrates the point I've made above, and helps you to understand the strengths of each power source.
Beam pattern (candela):
With a virtually identical lenses the beam patterns are virtually identical. The owners manual indicates the the candela rating is much improved on the new model, but that doesn't effect the spill of the light up close. And is only slightly noticeable in the beam pattern at medium distance. Overall, both beam patterns are excellent for close up and medium-close work. With the i5T Plus being more versatile at slightly greater distances. If you enjoy the diffuse beam pattern of the i5R, the i5T Plus will feel very familiar.
The key difference in features is the way the lights reach their max brightness. The i5T Plus ramps up into high output. If you have an old-school i5T or a Baton 3, you’ll know what I’m talking about. On the other hand, when the i5R comes on, it immediately reaches its high output. With no slow build, the bright flash of light can seems jarring and unsubtle. I much prefer the slow ramp up of i5T Plus.This phenomenon is hard to explain in text, so please browse the video linked below for a visual.
Additionally, I want to again consider the availability of brand new pebble knurling as a differentiation between these two models. It's reminiscent of the Seeker 3 Pro rubber grips, but sculpted into the aluminum. It's increased grip is most noticeable when holding the light towards the back of the light, in a pencil grip. With your thumb and forefinger on the pebbles. This knurling option greatly compliments the lights already dexterous characteristics. And the only place to try it out is on the i5T Plus.
Your choice of LED color temperature is another advantageous feature unique to the i5T Plus. Neutral white and warm white options represent a valuable capability to have in your literal and metaphorical tool box.
I personally do not carry an i5R as a primary light, because I find it too small for my hands. The increased size and added dexterity of the i5T Plus makes it a much better fit my hands, and I absolutely intend on carrying mine around.
The max brightness of the i5R has always been just a little underpowered for my EDC taste, but the increased brightness means the i5T plus is going to be kept close at hand as a viable EDC option in my daily life.
And lastly, the runtime and standby time of the i5T Plus absolutely puts it ahead of the i5R. This light won't be surprisingly found dead in a drawer. It will keep on ticking for a good long while, even if left unattended for long periods of time.
Thank you so much for reading! I hope the dozen people who actually read the entire article give it a thumbs up!
For a video discussing this light in greater depth, please subscribe to the Olight Canada YouTube channel, and watch my product introduction of the i5T Plus!
For a full-length video on this topic click here!